These super-comfortable, but bad-ass trail mongers will easily be my favorite technical trail shoes ever. This is not hyperbole. Right out of the box, I put these bad girls on and took them for a 7-mile spin on pavement and gravelly dirt road. The next day, I was so excited about not having had to break them in AT ALL, Next, I took them for a 5 miler on a very muddy, slightly technical and very hilly trail in the North Georgia Mountains. There were no pressure points or weird blister-producing rubbing anywhere, including to be honest on my one bunion.
The true test was when I took them for a 13 mile run on one of Northwest Georgia’s toughest trails, The Coosa Backcountry Trail. It was early spring and it had rained a ton in the weekdays prior to our weekend joint. Add to that a cold front that had just passed through leaving parts of the sometimes technical/sometimes hard-packed trail fairly icy and slippery.
The Pearl Izumi Trail M2 passed my test.
In addition to having a very smart, not overly flashy and overly pink design, the PI TM2s have a fairly low profile, relative to max-cushion shoes and other stability/motion-control shoes.
After 100 miles, the shoes show very little wear and tear, which is significant for a heavier, hard on any-kind-of-shoe runner, such as myself. In fact, the only signs that the shoes have been used frequently in a short amount of time are is the outer-left side of the left shoe where an errant branch attacked my foot, tearing a small and insignificant piece of the outsole. Oh, and the remnant mud on the shoe.
Even though the shoe has a fair amount of cushioning for stability, it rides smoothly and does not interfere with the foot-strike. In fact, I was able to maintain a mid-foot strike throughout my run with no added pressure on the calf muscles or Achilles tendons. There is just enough cushioning with an excellent amount of sturdiness and tread-aggression that provides an easy ride up and down rocky, talus-filled, muddy, grassy and rooty trails.
I can’t tell you how many times I should have broken both of my big toes on this particular (and subsequent runs). The rock-plate in the forefoot of the shoes protects the toes against this, again providing a comfortable less-injurious ride on the trails.
As for the women’s specific fit, I wouldn’t know. I typically wear men’s shoes because they fit my Flintstone feet a bit better, but the PI TM2s do the job without sacrificing a little style for overall form, fit, and function. There was plenty (but not too much) room in the toe-box, but the shoes had a glove-like fit. There was also not a huge amount of slippage of my toes on the steep descents on the Coosa/Duncan Ridge Trail.
The shoes laces are another awesome feature of these nifty shoes. They are designed in a way that they will probably not become untied unless a bear really wants to eat your feet for breakfast or dinner.
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